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Gov’t budget utilization rate at 90% as of end-April

THE CASH utilization rate of government agencies stood at 90% as of end-April, slightly slower than a year ago, data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed.

The National Government, local governments and state-owned companies used P1.18 trillion of the P1.3 trillion worth of notice of cash allocation (NCA) issued in the first four months.

As of end-April, unused allocations stood at P128.07 billion.

The April cash utilization rate was a tad lower than the 92% a year ago.

NCAs are a quarterly disbursement authority that the DBM issues to agencies, allowing them to withdraw funds from the Bureau of the Treasury to support their spending needs.

Line departments used 86% or P779.9 billion of the total P907.1 billion allotments released as of end April. This left P127.2 billion in unused NCAs.

At end-April, only the Commission on Audit recorded a 100% utilization rate.

Other offices that had high utilization rates were the Department of Energy (99%), Commission on Elections (98%), Office of the Press Secretary (96%), and the Department of Interior and Local Government (95%).

The Department of Transportation recorded the lowest rate at 63%.

Meanwhile, budgetary support to government-owned companies as well as allotments to local government units were 100% used.

“The slightly faster utilization rate a year ago may have to do with election-related rush, especially the need to expedite completion by some incumbent officials back then. Also, some speeding up the utilization of funds before the election ban last year,” Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in a Viber message.

A public works ban for the May national elections ran from March 25 to May 8 last year. Aimed at preventing politicians from using public resources for their election campaigns, the ban covers disbursement and spending as well as construction activity.

“There may also be some adjustment or transition towards greater fund allocation for local government units vis-à-vis the National Government,” Mr. Ricafort said.

However, Mr. Ricafort noted the fast approval of the 2023 national budget and reopening of the economy also supported the agencies’ use of funds.

“The need to speed up utilization of funds may also have to do with the urgency in recent years, for any delay in utilization could be forfeited,” he added.

Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman earlier signaled that the DBM would cut the budgets of agencies with a low utilization rate.

The DBM released 85.8% or P4.52 trillion of the 2023 national budget at the end of April, leaving P749.85 billion for the remainder of the year.

The release rate was slightly ahead of the year-earlier pace of 85.6%. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson

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